Thursday, March 2, 2017

From Inspiration to sketch to quilt.....


I start a new online class this Friday (March 3) ...with the academy.
It's called Inspired to Design (basically it follows the same path as my book of  the same name - well, actually, the class came first and then the publishers asked me to make a book of it...)...but you get hands on suggestions from me - if you want!

This class/book is about getting from the "inspiration" - usually, but not always, a photo - to a design or rough blueprint... which you then follow in order to make your quilt.  In other classes I suggest other ways to get from other sources of inspiration, e.g. observations about the structure of some existing art object whether it be a painting, sculpture or poem etc.  Or  (in the Mod meets Improv class for example) show how the definition of the object itself will give you a lot of clues as to how you might make your designs.  But this class follows a pretty direction pattern : from inspiration to quilt VIA a SKETCH.

However, these sketches really don't need to be very detailed;
 they should indicate no more than:

1. the basic structure i.e. the shape (square, portrait or landscape rectangle, or other less used forms, e.g. scrolls or small serial pieces like pages....),
2.  the big shapes and
3.  how they will be organized,
4. the main value pattern and how it will be organized,
5. that which you most want to communicate, capturing the feeling of that moment, that scene, the "meaning".

 Just an aside.......

  Isn't it weird...then you look at the sketch below, and then look at the one on the right you feel as if the one on the right is upside down...!!  just for a moment... 

Details:  Don't bother about the details till you've got the main idea down; Little details are unnecessary; if you think about blue prints for a house - even the most detailed blueprints won't include what kind of door handles you have, what colors you'll paint the rooms etc.
And I think details are unnecessary for a number of reasons:

practicality: you want to make several sketches at the outset: it's always good to cast your eye over several designs before choosing THE one.  Think about a wedding photographer:  She will try several different arrangements of bride and groom with/without family and friends in various positions, doing various things with various backgrounds at various angles etc etc......
No photographer only  takes one picture!!!  (yes, well, maybe in the OLD days!!)
And when you get all those photos back you look through and choose the ones  that best capture the feeling of  the day....or even The Perfect One.  And that's what we're doing when we create several sketches for a quilt....the quilt will take AGES to make, so I think it's a good idea to get the main decisions made before I start cutting out fabric and pacing back and forth to the design wall taking endless photos!! oh which is the right one?  !! oh me, oh my!

  Never lock yourself into details  right at the beginning of an idea for a quilt....for then you would get totally stuck when you can't find  the right color of fabric etc etc.  Also,  you might find that when you've got the quilt all together you simply don't need that detail - you've already said it all!

   Or, you might find the opposite, that when it's a reality, there's just one little touch you need to make it perfect.....

  If you put all the details in all the sketches, it will take you forever! then you have your sketch...and it's your map, your don't have to go up and down every street to find the party!  you know the address right from the start! closely should you follow the sketch?  I would say just as closely as you follow the map to the party....what's  the point in deviating?  if you've spent some time working out where the main shapes go, where the values are, what balance of big/small, light/dark etc etc looks good...then why change it?

I will tell you a secret!  When I teach a class...and go round and look at the quilt staking place on the wall, being blocked out and something looks majorly wrong...and the artist is standing  there saying "it doesn't look right, what's wrong?"  I say, "Hmm, let's look at your sketch..."  and guess what ?  The piece on the wall is significantly different from the sketch!!!   "Well," I remark, "I loved your sketch and it looked really good there....let's just see if using the actual values (or whatever was changed) that are in your sketch make a difference.".....and we change it out....and ...nine times out of ten it works!  And works great!!!    So should you follow the sketch?  Well...of course!     But don't make the sketch so detailed that it becomes a nightmare to realise....

hmmm time for a cup of tea and a little practice on the ivories!!!
If you have been, thanks for reading!!!!  And oh yes! do please comment!!!   I will respond to every comment - unless you're trying to sell me a new credit card of course!!!   Elizabeth

 PS.  If you live anywhere near me (north east Georgia) and are interested in buying some large screens for printing on textiles, I have some I'd love to sell.


Lee said...

Hi Elizabeth, in your book "Inspired to Design", I'm curious to know why the stacked, skinny red building didn't feature more strongly in West Cliff Steps. Your photo seemed to show them as a focal point, and the scene captured your imagination. Why did it (and its matching fence) not make it to your final design?

Précille said...

Bonjour Elizabeth,
Your class ´Inspired to Design' lead me to make my very first quilt of my own design, and it features prominently in my dining room. Each time I look at it, I smile. I also bought your book which I treasure as a wonderful reference but taking a class with you and getting your feedback were the true gifts for me.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you Precille!!I'm so glad you loved that quilt, and not surprised! And thank you for staying in class with me too!

Lee,good question! I made two quilts from that old slide image of Whitby and one did feature the red gate...there were a lot of things about the image I really liked - too many to put into one quilt! We can take a photo and find it inspiring for a number of different reasons, sometimes it's better to make one art work for each reason, instead of trying to capture everything at once. Some images I've used as many as 4 times!
Thank you for reading the book!